Tanya Tagaq - Retribution

Album Review by Andrew Gordon | 14 Nov 2016
  • Tanya Tagaq - Retribution
Album title: Retribution
Artist: Tanya Tagaq
Label: Six Shooter Records
Release date: 18 Nov

When the Great Barrier Reef was falsely reported dead this past October, many were quick to share their condolences. Yet the reef fights on through chemical and solar bombardment, unmoved by trivial human sympathies. Canadian artist and inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq probably finds this commiserative attitude towards non-human life laughable. On her latest album, she deploys her virtuosic and often deeply unsettling adaption of the traditional vocal style to characterise the 'natural world' as a brutal, menacing force hungry for revenge on puny civilization.

“The retribution will be swift,” she promises on the title track, and judging by the ferocious sound of this record, pretty bloody frightening. Tagaq’s voice is the main attraction, her growls, wails and yelps possessing a wolf-like viciousness, but she just as readily cuts back to an icy whisper, as heard on Cold Wind’s chilling monologue about rising ocean temperatures.

Her backing band’s post-rock arrangements are equally versatile: some of it sounds like Swans, other parts like Can, and there’s a loose jazziness to the groove on Centre, which features Ontario rapper Shad. A difficult but thrilling listen, Retribution mocks the hubris of our pity for 'defenseless' nature and its increasingly extinct species – after all, we’re next.